LONDON, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- A meeting of 22 coalition countries began Thursday in London to better coordinate ways of defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Before leaving Washington, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, co-host of the talks, noted a unity of purpose was present, reinforced by the attacks in Paris by Islamists sympathetic to IS and to al-Qaida, although the incidents were meant to splinter the coalition.
"Their actions have had the opposite effect," he stressed. "They're bringing us together with greater determination, with greater resolve to be able to get the job done."
The primary focus of the talks will be foreign fighters leaving vulnerable industrialized countries to fight with IS, then return home to conduct terrorist activities, a senior U.S. official said. As many as 5,000 people have traveled from European Union countries to Iraq and Syria to fight, the European police agency Europol said.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, the other co-host, said Britain could expect up to two more years of fighting IS, adding some countries in the coalition will be called upon to increase their involvement. He told Sky News that driving out IS would not be accomplished "in three months or six months" but would "take a year, two years."
"Clearly the reason we are doing this is to keep our own country safe. The defense of our homeland begins by supporting the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people in the fight against ISIL (Islamic State)."